[Note: Considerable clinical research suggests that silymarin, a well-tolerated flavonoid extract of the humble milkweed seed, supports the body's natural free-radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory activities - with a focus on its ability to support healthy liver function/detoxification.
Objective: To evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of Silymarin [milk thistle extract] in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) in comparison with piroxicam and meloxicam [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat tenderness, swelling and pain of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis].
Methods: A double-blind clinical trial was performed at the Department of Rheumatology, Baghdad Teaching Hospital, Baghdad, Iraq during the period from October 2004 to September 2005, in which 220 patients - 79 males and 141 females- with painful knee osteoarthritis were randomized into 5 groups, treated with either:
• Silymarin [milk thistle extract] 300mg/day,
• Piroxicam 20mg/day,
• Meloxicam 15mg,
• Or a combination of silymarin with piroxicam or meloxicam.
Serum levels of interleukin-1 alpha, interleukin-8, and the complement proteins C3 and C4 were assessed at zero time, and after 8 weeks. [Markers of immune activity involving inflammation and bone-joint degeneration.]
• Silymarin reduces significantly serum levels of IL-1 alpha and IL-8, C3 and C4 after 8 weeks compared to the pre-treatment levels.
• Piroxicam showed no significant reduction in IL-1 alpha levels, while IL-8 decreased significantly, compared to pre-treatment value.
• Meloxicam elevates serum levels of IL-1 alpha significantly, while IL-8 did not significantly change compared to the pre-treatment value.
• Piroxicam or meloxicam produced slight, non-significant increase in serum levels of complement proteins after the 8-week treatment period.
• Adjunct use of silymarin with piroxicam results in significant reduction in both cytokines IL-1 alpha and IL-8, and serum levels of C3 and C4.
• However, its [silymarin’s] adjunct use with meloxicam did not reveal any significant changes in this respect.
Conclusion: Silymarin reduces the elevated levels of interleukins and complement proteins, when used alone, or in combination with NSAIDs for the treatment of knee OA.
Source: Saudi Medical Journal, Jan 2009;30(1):98-103. PMID: 19139781, by Hussain SA, Jassim NA, Numan IT, Al-Khalifa II, Abdullah TA. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. [E-mail: email@example.com]